The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) is a set of international guidelines for hazard communication, providing standards for chemical classification, chemical label format and safety data sheets. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which sets and enforces protective workplace safety and health standards in the United States, adopted GHS as a legally required standard for U.S. workplaces in Hazcom 2012. All U.S. employers were expected to meet requirements by June 2016.
1. Train your workforce
Put a training policy in place to cover new and existing chemical and internal product changes. Don’t forget to include a regular re-training component to ensure your employees remember the key elements of your HazCom program. A yearly retraining is recommended to keep employees aware and up to date. GHS training kits and GHS reference guides can be posted in the workplace or distributed to employees to keep information readily accessible.
2. Identify Hazards
GHS standards specify 6 necessary elements on a chemical label, including standardized pictograms to represent hazards and explain precautionary practices. The updated format instantly signals danger with a visual cue. While the standardized pictograms improve safety for multilingual workforces around substances transported between countries where different languages are spoken. For more information on label requirements, visit our GHS Resource Center.
A complete Hazcom program that includes a system of labeling, regular retraining, and easily accessible information is key to workplace safety. Obtain Safety Data Sheets that present chemical information in the required 16-section format and keep them in one central location to ensure quick access and visibility. Perform audits whenever new chemical hazards are introduced to the workplace, and routinely reevaluate your Hazcom program to ensure continued success and effectiveness.
More questions about GHS compliance? Watch our GHS video resources here.
Contributed by Betsy Stout, Merchandising Associate at Seton.